IOWA CITY, Iowa - The tone to Iowa’s 27-14 loss to Michigan on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium was set on Michigan’s opening possession.
The Wolverines went 75 yards in 11 plays, taking 5:07 of the clock. When Ronnie Bell scored on a 16-yard run, Michigan was up 7-0, but it felt like a much deeper hole.
The Wolverines would score on four of their first five possessions. Two drives that ended in Jake Moody field goals lasted 13 plays. The drive to open the third quarter was a 10-play, 67-yarder that ended on J.J. McCarthy’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Edwards.
Iowa came into the game ranked first in scoring defense, sixth in total defense and sixth in rushing defense. But the Wolverines would gash the Hawkeyes all game, a methodical grind that was withering.
Michigan finished with 327 yards, including 172 rushing yards. That kind of balance is something, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, that can wear on a defense.
“We couldn't get off the field, and if you can't stop the run, it's tough,” Ferentz said. “It's easy to call plays when you can run the ball. Not minimizing what they were doing, but again, the pressure they put on you from my vantage point, you see both those receivers last week (in Michigan’s 34-27 win over Maryland) running by DBs. So if you match up on them one-on-one, you're living dangerously there with a guy who can throw it.
“It's a lot of cat-and-mouse, and it's tough, but they did a really good job, and it looked like they were executing very well, too.”
Blake Corum rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown for the Wolverines. J.J. McCarthy threw for 155 yards.
“You have to choose your poison a little bit defensively,” Ferentz said. “And if you load up too much in one area, you’re going to be vulnerable in another spot.”
YELLOW FLAG DAY
The Hawkeyes were penalized five times for 59 yards, but it was the timing of the flags that was a killer.
A holding call on Gennings Dunker wiped out a 17-yard run by Kaleb Johnson in the first quarter. That was followed by a clipping penalty two plays later on Connor Colby.
Late in the third quarter, an unnecessary roughness call on center Logan Jones negated a 16-yard pass from Spencer Petras to Nico Ragaini that would have had the ball on the Michigan 2-yard line.
“To have (five) major penalties, that’s kind of uncharacteristic,” Ferentz said. “Maybe we were overwhelmed talent-wise or maybe our guys are that sloppy. It didn’t feel that way from the sideline. It is what it is. But it impacted the game, and we weren’t good enough to overcome that.”
Ferentz was especially unhappy with the call on the Colby penalty.
“I’ve had a problem with college football’s interpretation of cut blocking for probably a decade now, and I don’t see that getting any better. The good news is they’ll probably eliminate it from football next year, so we won’t have to worry about it.”
Iowa’s offense had 281 yards, but couldn’t come up with any points until the fourth quarter.
Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run cut Michigan’s lead to 20-7, then Spencer Petras’ 5-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lachey with eight seconds later provided the final margin.
The Hawkeyes went three quarters without any rhythm.
“There was nothing out there today that was confusing for somebody,” left tackle Mason Richman said. “I’d say we just didn't play well enough. We talked all week about just doing our job and we didn’t execute.”
Petras was 21-of-31 passing for 246 yards, but was off-target early, and it proved costly.
Iowa got into Michigan territory on its second possession, but with a first down at the Wolverines’ 42-yard line, Petras threw three consecutive incompletions, all high passes that were off target.
“I thought we still executed today — we were just inconsistent to our standards in the first half,” Petras said. “ We had three drives in the first half, on the first drive we couldn’t execute, on the second drive I couldn’t execute and the third drive penalties hurt us and we hurt ourselves.”
“I saw a lot of things I thought that were better,” Ferentz said. “But that’s not going to get it done for us unless we really keep pushing this thing forward and squeezing some things down.”
PERFORMANCES OF NOTE
— Wide receiver Brody Brecht became more of a focus, with six targets. Brecht had two catches for 38 yards.
— Linebacker Seth Benson had a career-high 14 tackles. Fellow linebacker Jack Campbell had 11 his third game of 10 or more tackles.
— Linebacker Jay Higgins had seven tackles.
— Petras completed passes to nine different receivers.
— A 12-yard touchdown pass from Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy to Donovan Edwards was the first touchdown given up in the third quarter by the Hawkeyes this season.
— Iowa didn’t commit a turnover for the third consecutive game, matching a stretch from the 2019 season.